Reflections from Gail on Generosity (Dana)
Hi everyone, here are some reflections from Gail Iverson, one of our teachers and CG’s bookkeeper, on the topic of dana, or generosity:
The way the Buddha presented the teachings, was through a gradual path starting with generosity. Without the Indian tradition of giving alms to mendicants the Buddha would not have had the means to pursue his path to liberation.
Over the past 2500 plus years this practice has been kept alive through the practice of dana and therefore the teachings are still available to us. The act of teaching is a gift free and clear.
When asked when a gift should be given, the Buddha simply stated, “Wherever the mind feels inspired.” In other words, there is no obligation to give. This means that the choice to give is an act of true freedom, and thus the perfect place to start the path to total release.
The practice of dana is important enough that when Wynn and Mark founded Common Ground, they were willing to take a risk to leave the fate of the center’s well-being, dependent on our generosity. Our willingness to support the center by offering our time, our practice and our monetary offerings.
A question that often comes up is “How much should I give?” Only you can answer that for yourself. When you think about that answer you might reflect on the value that you place on these teachings.
So, I just want to encourage you to look into your heart and consider the value of what we receive here. Of all the many
ways that you can spend your money wisely, I’d just like to say that Common Ground is worthy of our gifts.
This is a compassionate and mindful practice—an opportunity, but not a requirement. The immediate cause for generosity to arise is gratitude—if it comes from this place then the right thing will happen.
The sheet by the dana bowl is entitled “freely giving, freely receiving”. This aspiration is 180 degrees from our societal conditioning where nearly everything has a price or comes out of duty, or obligation. We can practice looking for when the mind is inspired to be generous and then choose how to act on that inspiration.